How Katana Swords Are Made In Japan?
How were these incredible swords made? Well, the job of Japanese swordsmiths was incredibly complicated. In fact, they were less like swordsmiths and more like metal-alchemists. A traditional Japanese sword could take more than 18 months to make.
These deadly weapons are born in the hell-fires of traditional Japanese furnaces, which are known “Tatara.” Katana swords needed to be made of pure steel with low level of impurities and oxidation. Hence, the raw steel was heated to 1000-degrees Celsius for more than 75 hours with tons of iron-sand and charcoals.
Due to continuous heat of 1000-degree Celsius, all the impurities sank to the bottom of Tatara-furnace. In addition, the charcoals helped prevent oxidation and made carbonized steel. This carbonized-steel was very important for next part of the process.
The next step is forging a Katana from carbonized-steel. The best pieces used to be wrapped in cloth, then covered in clay & ash to prevent oxidation. Eventually they would go for reheating at 1300 degrees with red-hot flames. When it was hot enough, a blacksmith would hit the hot mass continuously before the temperature dropped. The continuous hammering was a good thing because it further reduced the impurities and caused homogeneous distribution of carbon. The mass was re-heated and folded 12 times and, as a result, metal skins would appear on the edge. There could be anywhere up to 5000 layers for every centimeter of steel. Through this process a very low carbon content (less than 0.7%) could be achieved, which gave flexibility to the sword.
The katana had to go through a 3rd phase, which was hardening the blade’s edge while maintaining spine-flexibility. This was done by applying a thick mixture of clay, sand, and ash over the spine. As for the blade, a mixture of coal dust was spread much thinner. After the heating and cooling process, the katana achieved both a hard-edge and a flexible spine.
But without the final-phase, a katana had no sharp teeth. It needed polishing! The polishers used various stones of different grits to polish different areas of the new, shiny katana.
Image by Tania Van den Berghen from Pixabay
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